What’s the MW travel section about? It’s a place to share our favorite travel destinations and top spots to eat, drink, and play. And we hope you can help us add new trips to our bucket list along the way.
What better place to start than Denver? Ben, as well as many of us blog contributors, moved to the Mile High City within a couple years of each other. When we’re not hanging out in each others’ backyards, we’re trying new restaurants, checking out up–and–coming neighborhoods, and camping throughout the state.
Visiting Denver? Here’s where you should start. We promise you won’t be disappointed.
Bacon Social House
This midcentury-modern space features bacon flights and amazing benedicts like the Costa Rican, which includes smoked pork belly, poached eggs, jalapeño cornbread, pineapple salsa, and chipotle hollandaise. Although we recommend brunch first and foremost — Ben says it’s the “best brunch in town, no question” — Bacon Social is open for lunch and dinner, too. Sunnyside neighborhood, 2434 W. 44th Ave., baconsocial.com
This Latin-inspired restaurant and bar is a mix of fancy and fun food, such as the Gulf Grouper with lime, peanut sesame crumble, chili, and a corn and coconut leche. Zagat recently named Señor Bear one of the 15 hottest American restaurants. (And Ben recommends the smoked chicken.) LoHi neighborhood, 3301 Tejon St., senorbear.com
Hops & Pie
We can always count on Hops & Pie to serve the freshest pizzas, and they get pretty creative with their ingredients. Ben adds, “It’s a pizza place but do not hesitate to order the Crunch Wrap. Think Taco Bell in heaven.” Bonus: They have wheat- and gluten-free crust options as well as vegan and vegetarian dishes, which are usually rare in pizza places. Tennyson neighborhood, 3920 Tennyson St., hopsandpie.com
Okay, this restaurant is seriously acclaimed and seriously worth it. It’s a little pricier than our other recs, but it’s perfect for a date or weekend dinner on the town. The sister restaurant to Boulder’s OAK at fourteenth, Acorn makes seasonal, contemporary food. And they have awesome cocktails. RiNo neighborhood, 3350 Brighton Blvd., acorndenver.com
Highland Tap & Burger
This super chill restaurant and bar is a classic neighborhood hangout. They have great bar food, like IPA Mac N Cheese and Duck Fat Fries, as well as a big Colorado craft beer selection. We held Ben’s viewing parties here during The Bachelor. Highland neighborhood, 2219 W. 32nd Ave., highlandtapdenver.com
Both Linger’s cocktails and patio are gorgeous. Its up-close views of the city and great happy hour make it a go-to spot for 20- and 30-somethings. We love the spicy New Saigon, which includes gin, cucumber, Thai basil, jalapeno, lime, and black pepper. By no means does including Linger on our “Drink” list make it less of a foodie destination (bao buns, bacon-wrapped dates, steelhead trout skewers, roasted beet falafels, and much more). LoHi neighborhood, 2030 W. 30th Ave., lingerdenver.com
Williams & Graham
Named the 2015 Best American Cocktail Bar, Williams & Graham is the most famous place to get drinks in Denver. The Prohibition-era speakeasy makes artisan cocktails in a “corner bookstore.” Ben says, “Order the Blue Blazer to light your world on fire.” If you want a quick, cheap beer, this is not the bar for you, but it’s well worth the wait. W&G is open at 5 pm Sunday through Wednesday. Arrive early to put your name on the list. RiNo neighborhood, 3160 Tejon St., williamsandgraham.com
Located in the historic ticketing office of downtown Denver’s Union Station, Terminal Bar serves microbrews and gastropub food via the old train station’s ticketing windows. If you’re traveling from the airport via the Lightrail system, you can stop here to refuel and check out the restored building’s shops and restaurants. It’s a really cool, historic setting. LoDo neighborhood, 1701 Wynkoop St., terminalbardenver.com
You gotta visit this bar and biergarten in the summer. Ideal for big groups, Local 46’s outdoor space includes games, a grill, and tons of seating in one of Denver’s up-and-coming neighborhoods. If you love craft beer, then this is the place for you. Tennyson neighborhood, 4586 Tennyson St., local46bar.com
The best *dive bar shouldn’t have a website, right? It’d be too legit. Lakeview Lounge is the sketchiest dive bar –– and we mean that as a compliment. They only take cash; the Coors pitchers are cheap; and the mystery shots always intrigue visitors. Ben wants you to know that it’s totally acceptable to wear sweatpants in this fine establishment. It doesn’t hurt that they have one of the most beautiful views of the Denver skyline from their front patio. Sloan Lake neighborhood, 2375 Sheridan Blvd. (They do have a Facebook.) *Honorable mention: Candlelight Tavern
Note: We could not even begin to list our favorite coffeeshops and breweries. Denver has so many award–winning spots with amazing beer and beans. If you want to hear about them, comment and let us know.
Churchill Room at The Brown Palace
The Brown Palace is this gorgeous, historic hotel that’s hosted most U.S. Presidents and a lot of famous people. Locals love to talk about the architectural landmark’s ghost stories. Not only is it fun to visit for a tour and high tea experience, but it’s also home to one of Ben’s favorite cigar lounges. Churchill at The Brown Palace has a custom humidor with over 60 cigars and well as many single-malt scotches and small-batch bourbons. It’s the ultimate spot for a guys’ night. Downtown Denver, 321 17th St., brownpalace.com
Red Rocks Amphitheatre
One of the best concert venues in the world is only minutes from downtown Denver. The summer lineup has something for everyone, including Glass Animals, Chainsmokers, Sam Hunt, and Chris Tomlin. If you can’t make it for a concert, then Red Rocks hosts Yoga on the Rocks and Film on the Rocks throughout the summer. Both give visitors opportunities to watch a classic movie or practice yoga while enjoying gorgeous views of the Front Range and city. Red Rocks is also open for hikes throughout the year. 18300 W. Alameda Pkwy., Morrison, redrocksonline.com
El Cid’s Cigar
If you like supporting small, local businesses — and you like cigars — then El Cid’s is for you. Ben explains, “I love hanging out at their lounge with people from all walks of life. You can get everything from your average smoke to high-end cigars, and the service is top notch.” 6690 W. 44th Ave., Wheat Ridge, El Cid’s Cigar
Ben loves this fitness studio’s high-intensity, low-impact workouts. The Fierce45 method involves Lagree Fitness Megaformers to get your heart rate up without beating up your joints and muscles. Locations in LoHi, Wash Park, and Hilltop neighborhoods, fierce45.com
Vail Ski Resort
Ben says Vail. Ali says A-Basin. Jordan says Beaver Creek, and Chris says Crested Butte… Defending your favorite ski resort is the ultimate debate in Colorado. But we’ll go with Ben’s pick here. Something we cannot argue: Colorado has so many pristine ski resorts for all levels; they’re so close to Denver; and they’re well worth a visit, whether you ski, snowboard, or simply après ski. Here are the two main ski passes we use: EpicPass and Rocky Mountain Super Pass
Rocky Mountain National Park
So close to the city yet steeped in the mountains and wildlife that make Colorado so beautiful, RMNP can involve a day trip, camping trip, or long weekend. The neighboring town of Estes Park has cute B&Bs, the historic Stanley Hotel, and everything in between to host visitors. RMNP’s hiking trails can take you to waterfalls, overlooks, and rivers. Few things are more refreshing than unplugging from the world and getting into the great outdoors. rockymountainnationalpark.com
Fish the Blue River
The Blue River is known for its Gold Medal fly fishing, especially below Lake Dillon. The best part: anyone can fly fish. It’s such a fun hobby for beginners to learn, and advanced fly fishermen and women have caught trout that are more than 24 inches long on the Blue River. fishcolorado.com
By Ali Harrison with Ben Higgins
Have you visited Denver? What’s your go–to spot?
Featured image by Andrew Preble.